Level I CFA Program Jobs – Probably one of the biggest questions on the candidate forums is finding a job after passing the exams or whether having the designation will help them get a job.
Many candidates have even wondered if it was worth it after passing the first exam and not being offered a position. No doubt, during these tough months of studying before the exam, the prospect of finding a job or a better one is on your mind.
Level I CFA Program Jobs – Passing exam is a free ticket to one?
To that, I have one thing to say, “stop thinking that the designation is a free ticket to any job you want.”
First, you do not need that running through your head while you’re trying to study. Don’t worry about it. You need to concentrate on passing the exam, nothing else. You’ve spent hundreds of hours studying for this exam, don’t throw it all away worrying about an irrelevant question right now.
Secondly, the industry has been shrinking for eight years and getting a job is extremely tough even for those with a strong background. Read through the Journal on any given day and it’s a good bet you’ll see an article about layoffs at one of the big banks. Citigroup has cut 25% of its workforce since 2008, about 87,000 people! Over the last few decades, the huge payouts in the industry have attracted a multitude of would-be engineers, programmers and others that would have gone to other careers. Now, lower spreads and higher regulations are leading to expense cuts that could last another couple of years.
Level I CFA Program Jobs – What is the point of passing then?
Having passed the first CFA exam, or even having the designation, will help to show your skill and determination but it will not get you a job on its own. You are going to need to be just as persistent at getting a job as you were studying for the exams.
It’s funny, as I research industry layoffs for this post a content box at the side of the CNNMoney site shows the most popular articles. Number one, “Make $30 an hour, no bachelor’s degree required.” People like easy money, and think they can get it without putting in their time.
As someone that spends just as much time talking to firms to secure projects as actually working on projects, I can tell you that there is no easy route. Having the CFA designation will get your resume to the top of many lists, but if the list of applicants numbers in the double- or triple-digits you are going to have to do more to get the job.
Here in the States, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is 13.5%, compared to an overall rate of 7.5% and a rate of 3.9% for college graduates with experience. Having passed one or all of the CFA exams is a lot like having an advanced degree in Finance, it will help but without experience you are still going to have to work to get that first job.
Be proactive and personal with your job search
In today’s “social” world, you need to be personal. Having 500 connections on LinkedIn or emailing your contact list inquiring if they have any openings is not networking. You need to actually talk to people. Ask them how their business is doing and what kinds of projects they are seeing more frequently. Ask if there is a way you could help, even if on a temporary basis to build your resume.
Go to your local CFA Society events. Set a goal to talk to at least ten people at the event. Get to know them, what they do and other positions within their firm. It may take a while, but you will get leads, some of those leads will result in an interview, and one of those interviews will become your next job. You just have to stick with it.
You may also want to consider doing a few work from home freelance projects to build your experience. These are easier to get and can help you show your ability to future employers. I have had freelance projects turn into long running work and references to potential employers.
So…Yes, the designation will help get you a job, but in today’s industry you will probably still have to work just as hard finding a job as you did studying for the exams.
It’s tough out there and that makes the designation all the more valuable. Stay strong and stay on schedule. Your hard work will soon be rewarded.
Read more about how to improve your chances of getting Level I CFA Program jobs by clicking here.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA